Movie subtitles make it much easier to watch a movie, even if you are fluent in the language the movie is in. I sometimes can’t hear what the actors are saying because of all the surrounding noise in a particular scene, not to mention all the dialects and accents encountered onscreen.
Subtitles eliminate most of these annoyances. However, it’s not always possible to find subtitles for the movie you are watching. Or on the contrary, you might find way too many subtitles, most of which are not synchronized with your particular movie file. While you can manually synchronize the subtitles with the onscreen action, this can be a pain.
In such cases you will appreciate an app or a plugin that brings you the right subtitles. Fortunately, there are Linux programs for this purpose. Here are three of the best.
SubDownloader is a neat program that uses OpenSubtitles.org to retrieve the stuff you want. You can either choose a folder with movies and let SubDownloader check for available subtitles or enter the name of the movie. If you are interested in subtitles in a particular language, you can filter by language.
Since subtitles aren’t automatically included – they must be uploaded by somebody before others can use them – it’s only fair if you have subtitles for a movie to share them with the rest of the world. SubDownloader allows you to upload subtitles, too, so please consider this if you have found subs not currently available on OpenSubtitles.org.
You can check your distro’s repo/software center/package manager for SubDownloader or download it from here. (Only .deb is available for download.)
2. VLSub and Subtitle Finder Plugins for VLC
If VLC is your movie player of choice, check its VLSub and Subtitles Finder plugins. VLSub uses the hash of the video file currently playing to get subtitles from OpenSubtitles.org. All this is done automatically without any involvement on your side. If this isn’t working and you’d rather manually search for subtitles (again from OpenSubtitles.org ony), check the “Subtitles Finder” plugin.
As it happens frequently in Linux, the most powerful tool is a command-line tool. Unlike the other tools in the list, Subliminal downloads subtitles from multiple providers such as Addic7ed, BierDopje, OpenSubtitles, SubsWiki, Subtitulos, TheSubDB and TvSubtitles. This drastically improves your chances to get the correct subs, especially for not so popular movies.
To install Subliminal, open a terminal and type:
sudo apt-get install subliminal
Run Subliminal from the folder where your movies are, and it will automatically get the hashes of the video files.
subliminal -l en movie_name.mp4
Replace “movie_name.mp4” with the name of your movie, and hit Enter. The
-l en option tells the app to download English subs. If you want subs in another language, replace “en” with the code of that language.
Subliminal can be integrated with Nemo File Manager as a context menu option. You might need to run the app multiple times to get subs for all the files in the directory. For sites where registration is required, you need to provide credentials.
These three tools make it much easier to find the right subs. If you are worried about your privacy and don’t trust the explicit statements of the developers of the software that it contains no spyware/adware, just go the longer way and download the subs files separately. It’s a pain, but if you are obsessed with security concerns, it’s better to have peace of mind.